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BOULDER – Senior Emily Talley returned late Tuesday from China after competing for the United States in the XXVI Summer World University Games, held in Shenzhen the past two weeks.

Talley was one of five players from the United States playing but was playing individually and not for the team, which won the bronze medal.  Talley carded a 78-75-75-70—298, or 10-over par, and finished 16th in the field of 75.  She was the third best player from the U.S. in the final rankings.  

“The first round was going fine, but I didn’t get any birdies,” Talley said. “Then I tripled my second-to-last hole.  Then I shot two 75s back-to-back and my second 75 felt better than my first. 

“The last round I three-putt two of my first three holes for two bogeys, but then I rebounded and shot 4-under the rest of that round.  I made up for all the holes I caused myself so much grief on, I birdied some of the harder holes and didn’t get worse than a bogey, it was a great way to end the tournament.”

While her play on the course was impressive, it was the experience off the course that will make it a trip she will never forget. We sat down with her for a Q&A about her trip:

CU: Did you know any of them prior to this trip?
ET: Our team included five girls and five boys. We were all from all over the place. Our coaches wanted us to all get together in Chicago so we could all fly there as one group.  I knew one girl really well, Brooke Beeler from TCU, I think I’ve played with her at least 10 times since my freshman year, so we’ve spent a lot of time together. I played with her at Regional’s and I met two of the other girls at Regional’s, as well. So, there was only one girl I hadn’t met going into the trip. I only knew one boy from Junior Golf, but I had only met him one time.”

CU: What happened once you got to Chicago as a team?
ET: It’s cool because we are all very close to the same age, we are all entering our junior or senior year and we were all about 21 years old.  Once we got to Chicago, we got to know each other and then got on a plane that took 13 hours from Chicago to Beijing. Then that night, we got on a flight from Beijing to Shenzhen that was a couple more hours. 

CU: What was it like when you got to Shenzhen? 
ET: We didn’t get in until about 11 p.m. or midnight. Right the second we landed in Shenzhen the first thing we saw were signs everywhere for the World University Games. Not until that moment did I realize that this was such a big deal. Supposedly, it’s the second largest international sports competition in the world, second to the Olympics. Bigger than the World Cup. It had every sport and we’re all college kids. It was amazing. There were volunteers everywhere. There were 170,000 volunteers for 8,000 student athletes. Every single venue was built (minus the golf course) for this event. Now they are turning all the dorms and everything into a university. So, we were the first ones to use it. Everything was very nice. Everything was very, very cool.

CU: I read China spent $180 billion for the games, what are some other examples? 
ET: It was amazing. The Shenzhen logo was everywhere. It was on construction sites 30 miles away. It was on every single billboard, it was everywhere. They shut down the highway on the day of the opening ceremony and made it a national holiday. No one was allowed to drive on the highway because they were bussing all 8,000 of us from our compound to this great big venue for the opening ceremony. There was no traffic besides our charter buses. There were so many buses, it was crazy. I think after the opening ceremony at that point you realize how large this was, how cool it was. I think the most interesting part was that we were the only five American golfers there. Everyone else was not American. A lot of them didn’t speak English. Very, very little English was spoken. Most of the interactions you use more hand signals than anything. That was the really cool part. You use hand signals to communicate everything, that was really cool. 

CU: What about on the course, what was it like?
ET: I played with a girl from Japan who didn’t speak any English. Her name was Emmie Saco?. She would laugh and I would say thank you. I felt like those interactions were really, really cool. The golf was amazing. I was a little bummed that I didn’t play on the team but I beat one of the girls that was on the team, but I don’t get a medal, which is kind of a bummer. If you’re not on the team, your an individual. But, that did not take out of any of the interaction. You’re still playing with the top teams and I was playing really well so you’re put with those girls.

CU: What was it like playing with USA on your uniform?
ET: There were a lot of nerves going on, especially when you’ve got that USA written on your back. That was really cool. A really fun part about this whole thing was that we got 50 American pins and you would exchange them with all the different countries. You’d switch pins with them, so I have on my badge right now, South Africa, Ireland, Switzerland, China, Japan, the list goes on and on. It was a good way to interact. I think I turned up my “socialness” to a whole new level, if that’s even possible.

CU: Being the Socialite you are, did you make a lot of new friends?
ET: I became really close friends with this guy from Ireland who just won the Men’s Irish Amateur. I also met a ton of kids from South Africa. The last night, all the golfers, we went and hung out together. We had to push ten tables together. We had the Canadians, the Irish, the South Africans, the Americans, the British. . We were all there having a great time. I was in heaven. I was talking to a South African and an Irish guy and I just loved their accents. It was so cool. You exchange clothes afterwards, so I have a team Ireland t-shirt and they have an American head cover. It was just amazing. I didn’t want it to end. At some point, you just forget you’re there for golf because you’re having the experience of a lifetime. You’re meeting other people; it was almost like freshman year … a foreign freshman year. 

CU: OK, so after Shenzhen, how was it sightseeing in Beijing?
ET: We left Shenzhen really early on Saturday. We got to Beijing and some people went home early and we dropped some people off the next day. The last large group of us were there on Saturday, we went to the market where you get all the knock-off, cheap stuff, little nick-knacks;  seven stories of just everything. We all went there and got fun stuff, took pictures, went and got Pizza Hut for lunch. The only thing I didn’t like was the food, so the first time we saw Pizza Hut, we were so excited. That was fun. We walked around. 

We were right on the Meridian and stayed at the Beijing Hilton. We were four blocks from the Forbidden City. We got on a tour bus with a lady who knew her stuff like nobody’s business. She walked us through the Forbidden City and then we got back in the car and drove up to North East Beijing and saw the Great Wall. We stopped in this little farm town and went through a factory with really ornate pots and decorations. I got some nick-knacks there. Then we had a great, authentic Chinese meal. It was awesome. It was all pre-ordered, our tour guide took care of everything. 

We got back in the van, drove up to the Great Wall, and then hiked around there for a couple of hours. That was amazing. It was one of those “I can’t believe I’m here” kind of moments. It’s one of the Seven Great Wonders of the World and I was on it. It was amazing. You get there and it’s bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. We were there for a couple of hours. It was pretty hot in Shenzhen and it was cooler and not as humid in Beijing. In Shenzhen, you’re sweating all the time. So we went for a great hike along the Great Wall, then got back in the van and heading back towards Beijing. 

We stopped at this place that was the largest tea house in Beijing. They did a presentation of how they traditionally serve tea. We all got to try different kinds of tea - we tried jasmine and black tea and what they call “pure” tea, which tasted more like food than what you think of tea. The whole process was really cool watch. They were all dressed very authentic. That was very cool. After that, we got back in the van and went back to the hotel, relaxed, and then packed up. The next morning we went to the Silk Market and spend the rest of our money.  Then we had to get on the plane and just head out of town. It was really cool. We drove around and saw the Olympic facilities and where the Athlete Village was, which is now local housing. They made it into homes for people which was really cool. We saw the swimming cube and then the Bird’s Nest. I took so many pictures because I knew that slowly those memories will start to fade and I definitely want all these pictures. We were there for 13 days. 

CU: OK, what was your best memory, or a few of them?
ET: This has nothing to do with golf but there are these huge big dorms and in between each dorm there is a big courtyard on every floor that went all the way down to the bottom floor that was concrete. We went up onto the 17th floor, where the Lithuanians lived. We had a whole bunch of golf balls. We would drop one from super high and then look out there’s someone of every floor peaking out. At the top, were dropping the golf balls and this huge Lithuanian guy comes up to me and says “No, no, come with”. He didn’t speak any English. He takes us up these really windy stairs to the very top, to the roof. I have to say, that was one of the prettiest views. It’s a very new city so there are all these cool lights. So then we dropped golf balls from up there. Here we are with the South Africans, the Lithuanians, and we’re all just dropping golf balls. How simple could an activity be? But you look down and all these people are poking their heads out and we had so much fun. That was a pretty funny memory. 

CU: What about the opening ceremony?
ET:  It blew my mind. It was a joke, how amazing and how over done they did this huge festivity. We met one kid that had been to the Olympics, he qualified for the Olympics in 2008. He had been to both opening ceremonies and he said that they were basically the same and that maybe this one was even better. He said it was shocking how amazing it was. I’ve never felt so important before. Being there and having people that want to take pictures with you, shouting “America, America!”. 

The social part and the competition part, it was all just really cool. The really nice thing about China was that they import dragon flies to eat the mosquitoes. There were no mosquitoes. There were shuttles everywhere and people doing everything for you. It was really interesting seeing all the different countries that were there. I wanted to go around and get pictures of everyone’s shirts but then I realized there were way over 100 teams there.  I knew it was going to take a while. It was going to be too hard. 

When we were in Shenzhen, we never left the compound. A lot of people went downtown, but we didn’t. We just went back and forth between the course and our dorm area. They are huge, lots of stuff to do, lots of people to see and meet and talk to. It was really cool, we had concerts and everything for us right there. 

I can’t imagine a better experience. It was pretty cool. But I have to say that maybe the best memory was realizing that they made that day a national holiday. 

CU Student Assistant Lauren Lanier contributed to this report.